An analysis of a controversy in Saxony over the 1523 canonization of the eleventh‐century bishop, Benno of Meissen, introduces the reader to the engagement of early German humanists in hagiographical projects, the interest in and critique of such humanist works by fifteenth‐ and sixteenth‐century contemporaries, and the causes of this literature's preterition and misapprehension by historians since the nineteenth century. The Introduction argues that the amount and qualities of the literature belie conventional generalizations, drawn from simplistic and inaccurate interpretations of Erasmus or Luther and his circle, about a negative humanist stance towards traditional Christian devotions like the cult of the saints. The Introduction instead proposes that the humanist engagement in the cult of the saints was coherent and outlines the strategic ways that these authors transformed writings about the saints into a literature for religious and cultural reforms that German humanists promoted through much else of their activity.
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